Dacia Bigster three-row SUV could be the ultimate bargain [Update]

Update: ‘Dacia Bigster electric version not on the horizon’ section updated.

As part of the Renaulution strategy, group company Dacia unveiled a 5-year business plan in January 2021 which included the announcement of the Dacia Bigster concept – a C-segment SUV which will see the budget-conscious brand sell its most expensive product to date.

Video from Dacia Fans Youtube channel

The next 4 years for the French group will see it focus on the Dacia business unit, with the brand announcing that the Alliance’s (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi) CMF-B platform will be fully leveraged for upcoming products. The CMF-B platform will also give these products the versatility of featuring alternative and hybrid engines, Dacia confirmed, while acknowledging future regulations will be met via this route.

Exterior

The Dacia Bigster Concept is described by the company as being a ‘roomy, robust’ SUV meant for ‘open-air and dusty roads.’ Dacia confirms that the SUV measures 4.6 meters in length, which puts it in the ballpark of the world’s best-selling C-segment SUVs. However, given the brand’s heritage of adhering to a strict cost sheet, the production Dacia Bigster will be ‘accessible, at the cost of a vehicle from the segment below,’ the company had said in January 2021.

Dacia Bigster SUV concept front quarter
The Dacia Bigster will have some serious differentiation compared to the Duster, with the priority on comfort and touring. Image source: Renault.

Around 90 percent of the concept likely to be preserved

Autofacil.es‘ report from May 2021 is another indication that the production Dacia Bigster (codename: Dacia R1310) won’t look very different from the concept version. Expect only tweaks to the bumper, fenders, rocker panels, quarter glass panels, hood, and mirrors.

In March 2022, Mihai Bordeanu, Director (South-Eastern Europe) and Head (Romania), Dacia, strengthened the speculation about the production Bigster drawn from its leaked patent pictures. The production Bigster will be “very, very close” to the Bigster concept, and while that’s often not the case, “this time it is a commitment,” Bordeanu said. The company official revealed that the production version won’t feature the concept’s illuminated grille.

Dacia has adopted some design features from the Bigster concept car in current production models. The grille inserts on all its models are now white, and between them is a new, minimalist logo made up of interlocking ‘D’ and ‘C’ letters. The center of each hub cap also features the new brand emblem. The Bigster features the brand in block letters on the rear and steering wheel, a visual change that the company has incorporated in its current models.

Future Dacia models should look more stylish and less utilitarian. David Durand, Dacia’s new Vice President of Design, should lift Dacia to a new level of automotive design, starting with the production Bigster and the third-gen Duster (codename: P1310) SUVs. Durand contributed to the Bigster concept as well, in 2020, the year Dacia had appointed him the brand’s exterior design director.

2025 Dacia Bigster Hybrid rendering
The 2025 Dacia Bigster will be based on the CMF-B platform and will be propelled by Renault’s E-Tech hybrid powertrain. A Bigster plug-in hybrid is also under consideration. Image: TopElectricSUV render

Differentiation from the Duster

Denis Le Vot, EVP and CEO, Dacia, has indicated that there will be significant differentiation between the Bigster and the next-gen Duster, as per a report from AutoExpert. The Duster will be a rough and tough SUV optionally available in a 4×4 version, Le Vot said. The Bigster will be an SUV meant for long journeys, a model that focuses on comfort and touring, not off-roading.

Interior

Spacious

Dacia promises a ‘very spacious’ interior with generous outside dimensions and focuses on the design’s ‘genuineness.’ There are no chrome or imitation aluminum trims, but the company has used raw recycled plastics for all exterior protective panels. We expect the main attraction from the interior to be an additional row of rear seats. Dacia may offer the Bigster in five- and seven-seat versions, although some markets may get the latter as standard.

Uncomplicated

Dacia hasn’t shown the interior of the Bigster, but AutoCritica.ro has published a picture that gives us a peek inside the cabin. Unsurprisingly, the concept has the most upmarket interior we’ve seen in a Dacia. The design team has kept things simple while lifting core elements to the latest design standards.

The dashboard is upright and looks robust, just as one expects from a no-frills SUV. The Y-shaped grilles of the central AC vents, the four-spoke steering, and angular lines on the center console, the dashboard, and the central display bode well with the aggressive exterior. In contrast, some elements help the interior look more polished and elegant. For example, the smaller and sleeker center pad of the steering wheel, the fully digital instrument cluster, and the large tablet-like slim touchscreen that serves as the central display.

Features

No unnecessary kit

Affordable pricing is in the DNA of Dacia, and though the Bigster will be its flagship, the company would ensure that it doesn’t over-equip the vehicle and stray from its ethos. Le Vot says that the company is able to provide exceptional value by seeing to it that Dacias offer everything but aren’t “superfluous,” as per a report from Autocar. For example, air conditioning is essential, but electric seats with multiple adjustments could seem unnecessary to most Dacia customers, he explained.

Dacia has data backing up its decision to not blindly add new features just because they have become a trend in the auto industry. The company surveyed 2,000 UK drivers in September 2021 and found that 76% of them think too much technology in a vehicle is a distraction. 78% of the respondents do not want unnecessary technology in their cars. 61% would rather pay less and buy a car with only the technology they actually use.

According to Dacia’s study, on average, drivers use approximately 40% of their cars’ tech features. Most drivers rarely use advanced equipment such as in-car WiFi and automatic parking. They do want basic features like parking sensors, satellite navigation, and DAB radio at any cost, though.

Sustainability

Dacia isn’t moving to zero-emission powertrains for its SUVs anytime soon, but it is taking other measures to save the environment. For example, the company has avoided using chrome on the Dacia Bigster concept and is considering avoiding it on showroom-bound models, one of which could be the production Bigster.

Specifications

Dimensions

Worldscoop forum member De_passage may have inside information of the next-gen Duster and the Bigster. De_passage says that the Bigster will be 213 mm longer than the all-new Duster. 45 mm of that extended length will come from a longer wheelbase. The front overhang of the SUVs will measure the same, but the Bigster will have a noticeably longer rear overhang. Much of the third-row space should come from the rear overhang, suggests the forum post.

Hybrid Powertrain

Renault Group has suggested that thanks to the CMF-B platform, it is possible to offer the Bigster and other future Dacia models, like the next-gen Duster, for instance, with its E-Tech Hybrid powertrain technology.

Dacia (and) Lada are moving on the CMF-B platform for the next-gen Duster or the Bigster that we also announced. That is also to say that when Dacia or Lada will need technology, for example, for the E-Tech, the hybrid, we will be able to transfer the technology very easily to those ones.

Gilles Le Borgne, EVP – Engineering, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)

Renault Group is working on a bigger version of the HR16 1.6-liter E-Tech engine, and it will offer the new electrified engine in the Dacia Bigster, as per a report from L’argus. Internally called ‘HR18,’ it will have a displacement of 1,800 cc. Unlike the HR16, the HR18 will run on the Atkinson cycle for low fuel consumption. The company didn’t use this combustion cycle in the smaller engine because it would have significantly reduced power, but that won’t be a problem with a higher displacement.

The 1.8-liter E-Tech engine will be available in self-charging hybrid and rechargeable/plug-in hybrid variants. The next-gen Dacia Duster will get it first, in fall 2024, and then the Dacia Bigster in 2025, L’Argus adds. The speculation is now strengthened, as in an interview with AutoExpert in October 2021, Le Vot revealed that Dacia is considering a Bigster plug-in hybrid. Expect the traction battery pack of the plug-in hybrid system to offer an EV range of around 30 miles in the real world.

Given the Euro 7 norms (full compliance for Euro 7 is likely to come into effect around 2025), it is reasonable to expect even entry variants of the Dacia Bigster to feature MHEV (Mild Hybrid with a 48V system). According to Worldscoop forum member De_passage, Dacia could also offer the Bigster with a diesel engine.

Not a 5-star Euro NCAP model in the making

Dacia Jogger product manager Andreea Guinea has told Autocar that while Dacia is all for increasing passenger safety, it’s not chasing Euro NCAP stars. Securing a 5-star Euro NCAP rating means including advanced electronics, sensors, and cameras in the car, which can jack up the prices to where the brand loses what it stands for – affordability. The third-gen Sandero recorded a poor 2-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash test, and while the pricier Dacia Bigster could be safer, don’t expect a 5-star rating.

Dacia Bigster Price & Competitors

The Dacia Bigster should launch at an unbeatable price. The trump card for Dacia is the bargain starting price, case in point, the EUR 9,000 for the Sandero or EUR 12,500 for the Duster, will be utilized again to bring customers into showrooms, who invariably lock in the upper trims with better finish and more equipment.

Dacia Bigster SUV concept rear quarter
The Bigster could be the roomiest car built by Dacia and a good successor to the Lodgy, supported by the Jogger. However, plans for a seven-seat configuration have not been spelled out by the company. Image: Renault

Le Vot says that the Dacia Bigster won’t have excess tech “nobody really uses,” so the price will be “much, much less” compared to competitors. He expects the average family SUV price to be EUR 40,000 by the time Dacia launches the Bigster.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe in April 2022, Le Vot said that C-segment crossovers cost approximately EUR 33,000 on average. When Euro 7 norms come into effect, they will be pricier. Plus, adding hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology makes them heavier and costlier. That is where Dacia will try to differentiate from rivals, keeping the recipe light, basic, and affordable, Le Vot said. However, Dacia customers are increasingly going for higher trims, and so, the company could try to make the top-end trim more attractive as compared to the current levels.

At the top of the range, decked out with a hybrid engine with at least 140 hp output, the Bigster could reach EUR 30,000. This would make it mouth-watering considering the Peugeot 5008, VW Tiguan Allspace, and the Nissan X-Trail cost that much for the basic trims. To a few, the Bigster could be a no-frills, budget alternative to the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Le Vot told Automotive News Europe that Renault Group will have likely sold half a million units of the E-Tech full-hybrid system by 2023, so its cost would reduce considerably by then. E-Tech will be the cheapest full-hybrid system in the market by then.

The Bigster would help Dacia significantly boost sales in the UK, where it reached the 200,000 sales milestone with the delivery of a Sandero Stepway in Milton Keynes in July 2021. The base Dacia Bigster could cost around GBP 20,000 (approx. EUR 24,000) in Britain, as per a report from Auto Express.

Production

Dacia has not announced where it plans to manufacture the Bigster. The Mioveni factory in Romania that makes the Duster might not have the additional production capacity needed for producing the Bigster. The company could make it in Morocco if capacity expansion is not given consideration in Romania.

Bigster confirmed for Australia

Currently present in 44 countries, Dacia could enter Australia with the next-gen Duster and the Bigster. Local publication Wheels claims that it has seen ‘Dacia Australia’ and ‘Automobile Dacia Australia’ trademark filings and that Renault Vehicle Distributors Australia registered these trademarks. In April 2021, Renault Australia joined the local vehicle distributor and service provider Ateco Group.

Glen Sealey, MD, Renault Australia, has confirmed to carsguide.com.au that Australia will get the next-gen Duster and the Bigster. “I think those are for 2024 and 2025,” Sealey said. Whether the new SUVs will arrive with the familiar Renault lozenge or as Dacia products is something we’ll have to wait to know.

Dacia Bigster electric version not on the horizon

Le Vot talked about Dacia’s electrification plans in the interview with AutoExpert cited earlier in this story. He said that the company will first adopt Renault Clio’s E-Tech hybrid system, then probably launch a Bigster plug-in hybrid, and “at some point between Euro 7 (emission norms, expected to kick in by 2025) and 2035, become fully electric.”

In 2035 we will put an electric motor in every Dacia assembled in Pitesti.

Denis Le Vot, EVP and CEO, Dacia (AutoExpert interview in October 2021)

The Dacia Bigster will likely be the last of the company’s major launches before it begins its EV offensive. Le Vot told Autocar in July 2022 that the next-gen Duster and the Bigster “should really mark the culmination” the current phase of Dacia’s ambitions. After these SUVs, the company may narrow its focus on transitioning to EVs.

Dacia sales in 2022

Dacia ended 2021 with a 3% year-over-growth and an annual sales figure of 537,095 units, in which the Duster accounted for 186,001 units. Cumulative sales of the Duster since its launch in 2010 have surpassed two million units. In Q1 2022, Dacia’s sales declined 5.8% year-over-year to 120,892 units (Q1 2021: 127,915 units).

Showcased at the 2022 Lyon Motor Show

Video Source: Youtube/crospotter13

Dacia showcased the Bigster SUV concept at the Salon Automobile 2022 de Lyon (2022 Lyon Motor Show) between April 7-11, 2022 at the Eurexpo exhibition center in France. The video above showcases the Bigster from all angles, and the close-up shots give us a clear idea of what the retail unit will look like—90% of this design will be carried over to the production version.

The Dacia Bigster concept seems suitably upmarket, which would be expected from the production version as well. The flush door handles, triangular LED taillamps, and bold creases on the bonnet make the Bigster look sporty and rugged in equal measure.

Dacia Bigster FAQs

What is the Dacia Bigster release date?

The Dacia Bigster hybrid, riding on the CMF-B platform, should be available by early 2025.

Which SUVs would rival the Dacia Bigster hybrid?

The bargain-price Bigster would target C-segment SUVs including the Nissan Qashqai & VW Tiguan.

What is the expected Dacia Bigster price?

Dacia says the Bigster’s price will be similar to a lower segment model. Expect the decently spec’d Hybrid variant at well below EUR 30,000.

Featured image: Renault